Figures released yesterday from the Irish Central Statistics Office have shown a dramatic decrease in crime of over 40%, while many welcomed the results, several professional and representative bodies have expressed concern with this apparent downturn.
Minister For Justice, Michael McDowell said that this reversal of trend "was a direct result of justice policies he was planning" but had not yet implemented, "such as the proposed increases in prison places and the planned police reserve force recruitment".
Mr McDowell continued by saying that it his Department's planning Chiefs should take great credit in what they had achieved given that they had no measurable input into the situation, other Government Departments should take note on just how much can be done without really doing anything at all.
Asked if the proposed relocation of Mountjoy Prison to a Greenfield site in the Northside of Dublin would now be shelved, the Minister responded with a categorical no, "we cannot just accept these figures in isolation, we must continue to plan for the expected upturn in crime" as predicted by the Joint Committee examining Penal Reform, headed by Paddy Lockemallup from the Prison Officers Association, "complacency must not set in."
This view was loudly endorsed by the said Mr. Lockemallup, "this 40% reduction in crime is complete rubbish", he claimed, " we the POA have no doubt that these figures are a coniving conspiracy perpetrated by the gangland leaders of organised crime, it's obvious that these hardened criminals have downsized their operations over recent months in order that we can all be led into a false sense of security before they return to their hapless ways".
When pressed on the issue of Prison Officer overtime, Lockemallup further claimed that "the minimum ratio of 10 guards to each prisoner must be maintained especially in light of this dreadful conspiracy", he went on to say that, "his members only serve to protect the public at large and not their own selfish interest, this fully justified his members' average salaries of €200K".
The Irish Police Chief was also to quick to accept credit for the downturn in crime,"we are very happy with these results" Chief Petty Reilly was quoted as saying, "we need to put these tremendous numbers in context, this comes at a time that our dectection rate for speeding related offences has actually increased by 4,000 percent, we intend to continue pursuing our policy of visible traffic enforcement as it is clearly deterring the criminals".
An unamed representative from the Ordinary Decent Criminals Association was said to be in a state of total despair with this news, "we are shocked" he said, "this comes following a two year recruitment drive we have had in Ireland and throughout Eastern Europe, we just can't get the right people anymore, crime is not the attractive career option that it used to be, why would any decent criminal go the traditional route when the country is now awash with vacancies in the Legal and Auctioneering Professions ?, he asked.
The source went on to warn about the dire ecomomic consequences that a criminal downturn would mean, "just think about empty prisons, empty courts, no need for excessive insurance premiums, huge layoffs in the security industry, you can't underestimate this" he warned, "Irish crime is one of the few indigenous industries we still have and if we don't protect it, it will go the same way as farming and tourism went previously.
Minister McDowell responded to these claims as "nothing more than scare mongering" and said that, "those industries dependant on crime had nothing to worry about, I can change the law anytime to give this sector a kickstart where required, I have a Department of highly paid officials whose sole purpose is to introduce ridiculous legislation that can be easily criminalised, we will not be found wanting when it comes to introducing draconian measures to protect
the industry of crime"!